Four takeaways: Blackhawks erupt in Edmonton as playoff talks heat up

Four takeaways: Blackhawks erupt in Edmonton as playoff talks heat up

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Tuesday:

1. Special teams-filled first period

The Blackhawks and Oilers had a busy first 20 minutes. They combined for six penalties, which led to a whole lot of action, particularly during the latter stages of the period.

Erik Gustafsson scored on the power play — his third goal in two games after going scoreless in his previous 15 — to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 1:55 into the game. The road team was in total control.

But in the final four minutes, the Blackhawks committed four minor penalties and handed the Oilers several man advantages, including a 5-on-3 opportunity. Leon Draisaitl converted on two of the power plays, both of which were assisted by Connor McDavid, as the Oilers went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. They had outshot the Blackhawks 12-1 over that multiple power-play span.

2. Third period explosion

After a dull second period, the Blackhawks absolutely erupted in the third period. And the Oilers completely unraveled.

The Blackhawks scored five consecutive goals, including three in a 2:10 span, to put themselves up 6-2 before Edmonton even knew what hit them. John Hayden, Dylan Strome, Patrick Kane, Drake Caggiula and Dominik Kahun all got in on the action for the Blackhawks, who outshot the Oilers 14-4 in the final 20 minutes.

Going into Tuesday, the Blackhawks had only two wins in 24 tries when leading after two periods for a win percentage of .083, which ranked sixth-worst. They also handed the Oilers just their second regulation loss when leading after two periods this season after going 12-1-3 in their previous 16 occurrences.

In total, the Blackhawks had 22 shot attempts (14 on goal), 11 scoring chances and six high-danger chances, according the naturalstattrick. The Oilers had 12 attempts (four on goal), five scoring chances and one high-danger chance.

It's only the third time this season the Blackhawks did not allow a goal at even strength. Both of the Oilers' tallies came on the power play.

3. Four-line rotation

Perhaps the best part of this Blackhawks offensive outburst is that it came from everyone. All 12 forwards got on the scoresheet, except for David Kampf who left in the second period with a right foot injury.

The fourth line was particularly strong. The trio of Hayden, Chris Kunitz and Marcus Kruger drew a penalty in the first period that led to a Blackhawks power-play goal, and Hayden's goal is the one that started the offensive explosion. 

The Blackhawks have been top heavy all season long, so it's certainly encouraging to see all four lines chip in on offense. It's the third time in five games the team has scored at least six goals during their winning streak. That'll work.

4. Erie Otters reunion

On Monday night, there was an Erie Otters reunion in Edmonton before the actual game on Tuesday as former linemates Alex DeBrincat, Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome all grabbed dinner together to catch up. 

The trio put up ridiculous numbers together in the OHL. Strome is the Otters' all-time leading points scorer at 354, DeBrincat is second at 332 and McDavid is fourth at 285.

"They're probably two of the closest guys I've ever seen," McDavid told reporters before the game on the relationship of DeBrincat and Strome. "They love each other off the ice. They love to play with each other on the ice. It's a connection that they both really like."

DeBrincat registered an assist against the Oilers to extend his point streak to six games. Strome scored his fourth goal in six games. And McDavid recorded a pair of primary assists. It was a productive night for the former Erie trio.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Takeaways from first three days of Blackhawks training camp

Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Takeaways from first three days of Blackhawks training camp

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the first three days of training camp.

Which players have stood out so far and how will the injuries to Kirby Dach and Calvin de Haan impact the final roster?

The guys also discuss Jonathan Toews being motivated by an NHL Network snub and their feelings about the relationship between Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner.

0:45 - Fan support at Training Camp Festival 

1:45 - Impressions of Wedin-Toews-Nylander line

2:35 - Olli Maatta getting offensive 

4:00 - Aleksi Saarela impact

5:00 - Andrew Shaw at center

6:00 - Will Kris Versteeg get another spin with Blackhawks?

7:45 - Optimism at camp

10:15 - Kirby Dach injury

12:00 - What are Dach’s chances of making the team?

14:00 - Will Calvin de Haan be ready for season opener?

17:15 - Jeremy Colliton teaching D-zone 

19:00 - Adam Boqvist chances of making the team? 

20:15 - Jonathan Toews motivated by snub

24:15 - Crawford-Lehner relationship 

28:45 - Importance of three preseason games in three days

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Jeremy Colliton has been the Blackhawks' head coach for more than 10 months now, but this is his first training camp with the team and he's able to instill some concepts that he wasn't able to do on the fly last season. The biggest thing, however, is that he was afforded a full summer to prep and can help get everyone on the same page during training camp and in the seven preseason games before the games actually matter.

"It's important," Duncan Keith said. "Systems nowadays, with the way teams are, it's important that everyone's on the same page. Having a training camp with the coaches and being able to implement the system and try to get on the same page early on, the quicker we can iron out everything the better off we're going to be."

The one area the Blackhawks have focused on heavily over the first two days is the defensive zone coverage. They gave up the most scoring chances and high-danger chances at 5-on-5 last season, and the team got better at it in the final month or so but it's still a work in progress.

"It's going to be huge," Patrick Kane said. "Even [Friday], first day we're running through some defensive coverage trying to get everything done tactically. I'm sure we'll do a little bit more of that each day and some different things as well. It'll be real beneficial for us just to all get on the same page, set the standard around here and feel confident about our team, the way we play going into the season."

The onus isn't just on the defensemen, either. It's a five-man unit and training camp is just as much about building trust with your teammates and being in the right spot as it is nailing down the scheme and letting it become muscle memory.

"We've all got to be on the same page," Brent Seabrook said. "If my D partner's doing it perfectly and I'm not, then we're not going to be any good at it. We've all got to be on the same page, we've all got to be doing our job and doing the right thing and the faster we get to that point, then I think it's just going to help us out in the long run. We're just going to keep getting better at it and we'll go from there."

The Blackhawks are going to continue working on their defensive zone coverage as camp goes along because that’s priority No. 1. Scoring goals won’t be an issue. And after Sunday’s training camp festival at the United Center, the Blackhawks have three consecutive preseason contests to apply what they've learned in a game-type setting.

"I just think getting guys on the same page as quickly as we can, that's really important,” Colliton said. “You saw there was a lot of D-zone work today [Friday]. That'll continue and we'll just sort of roll out how we're going to play day-by-day so that we're ready. We got that festival game, that will kind of be a dress rehearsal and then right into it."

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